I have spent much of the last 10-12 years, ever since we moved from our large home in Sussex to a much smaller one in Suffolk (not that I have ever truly lived in Suffolk), in gradually trying to declutter and focus more and more on what’s important. I feel that I still have a long way to go, but having spent last weekend in some serious decluttering (the physical space is nearly there, the electronic needs some more!), after going shopping yesterday and thinking I’m not sure that I need more… and knowing that I’m meeting with Brian Draper in a couple of weeks, I ensured I put aside some time this weekend to read his new book Less is More.
It’s been great to sit still for a while (no radio, TV) and just absorb some of the thinking. I don’t really want to turn this into a ‘task’ of a formal review, but would love to share a few snatches with you (and if you’re someone who’s horrified by people writing in their books – sorry – I’ve scribbled quite a lot on it)!
- We’re always talking about “one day” I will do this, that, the other … but we find a comfortable physical place, and we just put it on hold… for a little longer!
- “Consumerism has a built-in obsolescence, for a very good reason: if we were truly satisfied with what we had, we wouldn’t feel the urge to consume more and more.”
- The example of bottled water, which our culture has persuaded us we need to pay for… and has also done with many other things such as adventure, inspiration, art, etc.
- To stop equating ‘quality of life’ with our possessions, and more with our interactions with others.
- The example of a gratitude diary, which I kept for the first year I was on antidepressants. Do I start one up again?
- We should give thanks for a dull news day, as it means no bad news (such as 9/11)… but those bad news days can shock us into putting our lives back into perspective.
- Rather than expecting everything to go wrong, ask yourself “What could go right today?”
- “But when, exactly, did life become just another problem to be solved? Who said it was something to be fixed? What if it were, instead, something rare to be witnessed, to be savoured, and to be appreciated?”
- Ask the simple questions that others are afraid to ask, and focus on developing what you’re good at, rather than spending hours correcting your weaknesses.
- What does silence sound like… reminds me of my trip to Doubtful Sound (which still see as the No 1 highlight of my round the world trip). Take time to stop & listen to it (not be afraid of it)… savour the now.
- We fashion our sense of identity from our wounds, and old/hurtful voices clamour in our head, if we allow that to restrict our choices. It can be difficult to hear over those.
- Go to places where oceans merge, etc.”In this kind of place, roles mean nothing. Titles mean nothing. Status means nothing. While you mean everything.”
- A blank page represents such promise, and each time you press ‘New Message’ for an email “you are confronted with a blank page and this is your chance to use it well. It is an invitation to craft something from nothing, with care and with love.” Each day presents ‘a blank page’ – watch out for the seemingly insignificant moments that can be squeezed out by what seems important.
- Don’t try and fill gaps in the conversation. Stop and properly listen – will make others feel valued.
- The way we’re working isn’t working. We need to understand more about how we work in waves of energy, and need to look for spaces to renew energy as well as spend it. Otherwise, as I learnt with Beyond Chocolate, you’ll eat to stay awake, when what your body needs to function effectively is sleep. I’ve also learnt much more to take time to focus – I have Google docs for each of my roles, with things that need doing – pick a task and get going on it. I also used to have a rule in my PhD research – you can move something on the calendar 3 times then you have to do it!
- Adele’s success = not selling out!
- Find the Source of our refreshment and wisdom – return frequently to drink from it – and then let it flow through us… not trying to trap/hold it.
- Reconnect with creation.. and an interesting piece as someone who’s trying to run… trainers are BAD for our feet … causing us to run with our heels, and doing the work our feet are meant to do. Stop STAMPING on the earth, and learn to walk lightly on it.
- The 6-word Memoir (which doesn’t have to be for all time)
- Take time to listen to others stories, and think how we want our lives to be defined (as a challenge we set on Big Bible to write our own epitaph – then work towards it!).
- Start somewhere! “We cannot do everything after all. And when we realise that we can’t, we are liberated to do one thing wherever we are, and to make the kind of difference to the world around us that only we can make.”
- Start listening to ‘what I do is me’- and be introduced to the person you were created to be.
- Slow down and savour the moment… taste that sandwich, say thank you to the person who served it to you…
- Learn to live with poise (from within), rather than pose (a false identity which takes energy to maintain). It’s not always about getting from A to B, but about how you get there.
- Learn to relate to each other without an agenda, and without judging.
- What are the passions, values and beliefs at our centre, and how do we reach them?
- “… in a go-getting world, we may like to think that ‘the sky’s the limit’, when really our fear of flying keeps us earthbound.” We have a responsibility to be free, whatever the situation, and need to be unafraid to fail.
- We are all involved in life’s battles – fight them – but choose the right battles.
- A soldier follows orders: kill or be killed. A warrior fights with the example of their lives, with physical fighting the last option where necessary. Matthew Fox: The true warrior is “a co-creator, a worker with the Spirit, a worker for Spirit. The warrior’s hands are the hands of Spirit at work; the warrior’s mind is seized by theSpirit precisely in the work of creativity.”
- We tend to live in a haze … stop to see what’s right in front of our eyes:
- Spend time outdoors in reflection. Stop. Close your eyes for a full minute. Listen, smell, feel.
- Autumn: the trees allow themselves to be laid bare in order for renewal, rather than holding onto the gloriously coloured leaves.
- Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now: “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.”
- A mention of Michael McCarthy and the difficulty in describing a butterfly: “It has been well said that science gives us knowledge but takes away meaning.”
- Believe that there must be more to life than this.
Well, that was a little more than I intended to write, but I hope that it inspires you to buy the book.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.